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Rubber unions in unity against attacks

As part of the support and solidarity actions, the participants received reports about ongoing conflicts in various countries and re-affirmed their solidarity with 58 workers fired from the Goodyear plant in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, agreeing on joint international actions until the dismissed workers are reinstated and fundamental trade union rights are respected. 

The meeting also expressed solidarity with dismissed union leaders at MTS in Spain, one of the service providers to Goodyear, as well as six dismissed union leaders at Bridgestone’s operation in Indonesia.

The meeting analyzed the recent developments in the global rubber industry and assessed labour policies and practices of the leading multinationals, such as Bridgestone, Michelin, Goodyear, Continental, Sumitomo and Pirelli. It was also noted that the world’s leading tyre makers committed more than US$7.5 billion in the past year toward new plants and capacity expansions, on top of Michelin’s deal to purchase Camso, and Qingdao Doublestar’s acquisition of a controlling interest in Kumho Tire.

The meeting applauded the work being done towards unity building in the emerging rubber-producing countries. In Thailand, for example, 12 local unions from nine rubber companies formed the Rubber Workers’ Unions’ Group (RWUT) with objectives to consolidate union power, improve information exchange with new data collection strategies, and to develop labour relations. The RWUT has also targeted non-union plants for organizing.

Likewise, in India, since 2011 and through the initiative of IndustriALL Global Union, unions representing tyre workers formed a national network bringing together representatives from multinationals and Indian-based companies such as JK Tyre, MRF, Apollo, CEAT, Birla, TVS and BKT. Following mature regular information exchange on wages, working conditions and collective agreements, the Mumbai meeting agreed to launch a platform at an IndustriALL conference for the Indian tyre industry covering all the unions in the country, with the target to realize it in 2019.

Under the topic of confronting global capital, IndustriALL’s rubber industry continues to focus on a strategy of building trade union networks at the major multinational companies. The Mumbai meetings also covered special sessions on the Goodyear and Pirelli/Prometeon networks. For the latter, the participants welcomed the input from Federica Calegari, Chair of the European Works Council (EWC) of Pirelli and member of IndustriALL’s Italian affiliate FILCTEM-CGIL. 

The meeting also welcomed the announcement made by Michelin to enter into discussions with IndustriALL to form a global works council. Likewise, the meeting was updated about the ongoing work of the Bridgestone Global Union Network Meeting.

The participants also conducted a deep discussion about the impacts of Digitalization/Industry 4.0 on work and production in the tyre industry. It was reported that the main global tyre manufacturers already use Industry 4.0 technologies to develop smart products that connect with surrounding objects and adapt to the roads. Goodyear’s Eagle 360 Urban, Pirelli’s new generation “MIRS” technology and Michelin’sRFID chips were analyzed. It was agreed to continue to exchange information and experience on this phenomenon.


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